SETsquared Blog

Just one moment in time and 50 grand later

As I see the guys from SoundSYNK presenting their app in Russia this week as part of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup World-wide final, I am struck how small decisions can change people’s lives. In November last year I was contacted by Natasha Joseph from Microsoft to see if SETsquared would be interested in running the Southern England heats for Microsoft’s app competition. Working with a big brand like Microsoft seemed like a good opportunity but there wasn't too much interest in the Partnership as there didn't seem to be many students developing for Microsoft platforms. I guess that’s why they have the competition!

Luckily for us all, Tracy Costello from the Student Guild at University of Exeter shared my enthusiasm for this opportunity and Simon Bond, who runs openMIC mobile innovation network from the SETsquared centre Bath, was keen to link SMEs with interested students. So our first hackathon was born.  There were teams with clear ideas and who were beginning to create and shape their app but as we left the teams in Exeter for the night, the SoundSYNK guys had no idea what they were going to do. 

However it was a different story by the next morning. Caffeined up at 2am they wanted to play music to get them through the night but the speaker volume on one phone was not enough to keep them awake. This is when they struck gold. It be cool if we could sync all our devices so they are playing the same music. SoundSYNK was born and within a few hours they had a working demo. They blew us away with their presentation having achieved so much in just 48 hours. They were one of three teams we put forward to the UK Imagine Cup finals.

They were on the road to something big. Over the next few months they met Doug Richards from Dragon’s den who said he seems many ideas for new apps but probably only sees one that will make money and this year it was SoundSYNK. SETsquared also sent the team to MIT in Boston for a 2 week entrepreneurship training programme. They met investors, entrepreneurs and technologist, all who were buzzing about the app.

In April they presented their app to Microsoft judges in London for the UK Imagine Cup finals and they stormed it. Their app was now well developed and fantastic. They even threw a song across the room from one phone to another. It was a winner. Why did they win? Well the app was good but Saberr predicted they would be the winners because they had the right balance of skills within the team but more importantly they fitted together well on a personal level. Well they certainly seemed to have the “X Factor” together.

So July 7th they headed out to Russia for the Microsoft Imagine Cup finals showing off their technology but it is more than that. They have focused in on how the app will make money, how to get it to market as well as having a fab demo. The guys – Ed, Jon, Robert and Alex have got the mix right of promotion and technology. Their determination to make the most of every opportunity to be seen by the judges and demo the app paid off. On 11th July they were crowned the worldwide winners taking $50,000 in prize money. 

Just one moment in time has changed these guys lives forever and they are on the road to make money and become entrepreneurs. If I hadn't decided to take up the challenge to run a hackathon. If Exeter had not decided to run with this. If openMIC hadn't agreed to help support this with the ICT KTN’s help. If the lads had not come to the event. Well I wouldn't be writing this and they would be none the wiser of the opportunity missed. Serendipity plays a big part in shaping where we end up but as Ed, Jon, Rob and Alex have shown it takes hard work too. Well done guys. I am so proud and can’t wait to be the first person to download your app!